Indoor cat is outside and won't come in!

profcat

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One of our cats pushed open a cracked window and somehow got out the corner of the screen 3 nights ago. It was the first day we've had windows open here in this season and didn't realize the screen needed repair. We're devasted. He was a feral kitten who lived out in the backyard before we trapped him 6 years ago. He barely lets us touch him (has always been a bit feral and scared) but is so happy and loved by his brothers and sisters.

We're in a suburban area surrounded by woods with a busy road about 500 yards downhill. We don't think he's gone far. When he first got out Saturday evening, he was right in a bunch of overgrown brush to the side of the house. We haven't seen him during the day but at night with a flashlight we've seen him in the brush and also down in the woods half way to the road. He seems to be staying close (which is good!) and only out at night.

We have the window open that he came out of (and I have a camera aimed at it to watch for him). This means we have to put our other cats in the bedroom for a while, so we can't leave it open all the time. When/if he comes in, we'll need to be able to go around and close the window. We have a bowl of his regular wet food and some tuna-- with a bit of tuna on the window sill to entice him. We also have a smell blanket outside that was in a cat crate. And I have a humane cat trap set but can't leave that up all night or will get racoons. We're doing shifts-- 7pm-12pm, and then 4-6am (so tired! I have to work today!). I'll leave the cat trap up all day.

Anything else we can try? He's got to be so hungry!! 2 years ago he had UTIs and blocked and we're so worried that's going to happen again.
 

fionasmom

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Found missing cat but she ran away
This is one of the most comprehensive threads about luring a former feral back inside after a long search. Read M MackerelTabbyStripes posts for lots of suggestions.
Lost Cat
Follow the links in this thread for more advice

Can you bait the trap with something like KFC? Whatever you use is not going to be his food for the rest of his life, so don't worry about that. Use anything that will entice him to enter. Was he trapped before? That makes it a little more difficult, but ultimately I think that using the trap is your best bet if he won't come to you. You might put the same bait in the room with the open window.

He may not be going far and may have returned to his former home in the backyard.
 

Margot Lane

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If it helps, my cat finds yeast pills irresistible…maybe you could have a small line of em (like 3-4) up to (and into) the trap?
 

MackerelTabbyStripes

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Here's a more recent story of a forum member getting their cat back after several weeks outside: My cat got outside for the first time since we took her in, what are the chances she returns?

Your cat got out quite recently and you've seen him moving nearby, so I think you may have a chance to get him back quickly.

I found it helpful to read stories of what worked for other missing cats -- themes really included just how LONG it might take, but to not give up. The longer they are out, the longer it might take since their habits can change, but cats are such survivors there is really a real chance of getting them back even after months. Posting here and reading replies and suggestions was very helpful for me.

These are some resources I read when my cat was missing. She was gone over seven weeks so I had a LOOOT of time to read!! Lost pet research and pet fbi were especially useful to me, and they had some shorter "to-do" style articles that were helpful early on before I had the time to read more deeply


Resources:
Lost cat specific guidelines:
Lost Cat Behavior
Lost Cat: Action Plan | Pet FBI
Humane Trap Guidelines

Other resources, such as stories & trap specific tips
Trapping Guidelines
You May Need to Trap Your Lost Cat! | Pet FBI
Checklist for Lost Cats | Pet FBI
Best Humane Cat Traps - Lost Pet Research and Recovery
Where to Get Traps

Link to other research and articles
Fast facts about feral cats and TNR | NFRC
 
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profcat

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Found missing cat but she ran away
This is one of the most comprehensive threads about luring a former feral back inside after a long search. Read M MackerelTabbyStripes posts for lots of suggestions.
Lost Cat
Follow the links in this thread for more advice

Can you bait the trap with something like KFC? Whatever you use is not going to be his food for the rest of his life, so don't worry about that. Use anything that will entice him to enter. Was he trapped before? That makes it a little more difficult, but ultimately I think that using the trap is your best bet if he won't come to you. You might put the same bait in the room with the open window.

He may not be going far and may have returned to his former home in the backyard.
Thanks for the info! We don't have a KFC near us but I did pick up sardines on the way home today. I've done a lot of TNR trapping and find sardines are the best.

He was trapped initially and I think he's always been traumatized by it. That was a drop trap, though. So I'm hoping a walk-in trap will not be something he's familiar with. We just can't leave it out at night or we'll keep getting raccoons.

It's going to rain tomorrow night so we're going to try leaving the bathroom window open as late as we can tonight-- with food etc. leading him to it. I even tried some cat nip spray. He's SO CLOSE in the woods but not coming up near the house. Very frustrating, but also good to know he's not going far.
 

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It's going to rain tomorrow night so we're going to try leaving the bathroom window open as late as we can tonight-- with food etc. leading him to it. I even tried some cat nip spray. He's SO CLOSE in the woods but not coming up near the house. Very frustrating, but also good to know he's not going far.
profcat profcat ...Could you try using this 'mama cat trumpeting-call for kittens' recording?

See this thread for another idea to try...about using a recording of a mama cat trumpeting to her kittens:
I need a sound recording of mom cat "trumpeting" call for kittens
I think anything is worth a try...when you are walking around.
(shout out of thanks to Norachan Norachan ...for posting this in a thread a long while ago.)

I would also call his name,...or whistle, rattle, or use a bell...if he had one...in any of his toys.
Shake a bag of temptation treats..if he likes them.

Does your cat like dogs...by any chance?
Or would he be afraid of dogs, and run and hide up a tree?
The reason I mention this, is because another thread I was on, early in january, the member's cat was found by a neighbour's dog.
(He was hiding under a shed. Although, in her case, the cat got lost on a 'leash walk', and ran into a neighbour's yard and stayed there. She put up posters, and the neighbour called the OP, after the dog found the cat, hiding.)

Good Luck to you. :goodluck:
More than likely, your cat is hunting, and having a 'great adventure,'...so hopefully his sense of Smell, and Smelling those Sardines, will lure him home, or into the trap.

(Another thought, I had, was using one of the other cats, on a 'harness leash'...and walking around...but that may be too dangerous, if the cat would escape the harness, or is not used to the harness, or has never been outdoors, before. So probably not a good idea.
Sometimes if a cat gets a 'taste for the outdoors'...then they want to be outside, everyday, walking, ...so again, might not be too good of an idea.)
(even placing another cat in a carrier, while you walk around, would probably stress that cat out too much, so again, disregard this last idea.) Your cat that is outside, might see the 'cat carrier' and think..."omg, s/he's taking her to the Vet"..."run, run, run".

Hopefully, you see his 'eye shine' at night, and he's still close to home...meaning he will eventually want to come back inside, before it starts raining...and where it's nice and dry, and warm. :crossfingers: :greenpaw::bluepaw::bluepaw::bluepaw:
 
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profcat

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Thanks for the support! He never went into the trap during the day yesterday. An update from last night: We had the bathroom window open from 7pm-1am. I would go out every 30 minutes or so with a flashlight to see if I could see him. He showed up around 10pm peaking out from the woods about 30 feet from the window. Around 12am he was so much closer-- like 15 feet from the window looking at it. But then the raccoons showed up and sent him into hiding. Since we live on the edge of the woods, there's no way to keep them away. We packed up for the night but are encouraged that we saw him closer to the house than any other night. Not sure if we'll try tonight because it's supposed to rain.

He hasn't eaten a meal since Saturday dinner. He must be starving but maybe he's caught a bird or rodent or something. His mom actually lives outside as our (fixed) outdoor cat. So he does know her and the area from when he was a kitten. We are leaving food out for him today so he doesn't starve.

This is exhausting but at least we are seeing him, he's staying close by and getting closer.
 

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Darn raccoons!
More like "Trash Pandas!"
;) ;) ;)

If your cat is really as skittish as you say he is, he might also be flared off by the presence of raccoons.

Do you have a boombox or some kind of portable radio that you can put outside? Raccoons don't like to come near places where they hear people. Music and commercials from a radio often keeps them away. Keeping outdoor lights on, at night, also deters them.

This all assumes that your cat won't also be deterred by the sound of the radio or spotlights in the back yard but it is my guess that he is more used to human sounds than your average coon.

Of course, you already know to keep your trash cans covered so that they can't raid your garbage.

The idea that I'm going for is that, if you can keep the trash pandas away, long enough, it might make an opening for the cat to sneak back inside.
 

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Can you stay outside in a sleeping bag and set your alarm to wake you up every hour? Your cat might come up to you if you are right at the entrance of the woods. This is what I would try. I would camp out with my lamp, radio and maybe next to a catch them alive trap. If you do, keep a blanket nearby that you can toss over your cat.

I hope you catch your cat!

No matter what you do, I would leave water out. I might even leave mutiple bowls of water.
 

CatladyJan

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Thanks for the support! He never went into the trap during the day yesterday. An update from last night: We had the bathroom window open from 7pm-1am. I would go out every 30 minutes or so with a flashlight to see if I could see him. He showed up around 10pm peaking out from the woods about 30 feet from the window. Around 12am he was so much closer-- like 15 feet from the window looking at it. But then the raccoons showed up and sent him into hiding. Since we live on the edge of the woods, there's no way to keep them away. We packed up for the night but are encouraged that we saw him closer to the house than any other night. Not sure if we'll try tonight because it's supposed to rain.

He hasn't eaten a meal since Saturday dinner. He must be starving but maybe he's caught a bird or rodent or something. His mom actually lives outside as our (fixed) outdoor cat. So he does know her and the area from when he was a kitten. We are leaving food out for him today so he doesn't starve.

This is exhausting but at least we are seeing him, he's staying close by and getting closer.
It's good for him to be hungry it will draw him near. Are you covering the trap?
 
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profcat

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It's good for him to be hungry it will draw him near. Are you covering the trap?
Yes-- I did a lot of TNR so I'm good with concealing it a bit. And I put a blanket over it that smells like home for him.

We left food out all day and it wasn't touched. Maybe he's out there feasting on chipmunks, I'm not sure. If he were truly starving he would have come out to eat, but we never see him during the daytime. So weird!
 
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profcat

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Can you stay outside in a sleeping bag and set your alarm to wake you up every hour? Your cat might come up to you if you are right at the entrance of the woods. This is what I would try. I would camp out with my lamp, radio and maybe next to a catch them alive trap. If you do, keep a blanket nearby that you can toss over your cat.

I hope you catch your cat!

No matter what you do, I would leave water out. I might even leave mutiple bowls of water.
It's quite cold here so we can't sleep outside. As it is we are leaving the window open most of the night and it's freezing.

Maybe once he starts coming around to eat (which he hasn't yet) we can think about feeding him in the same spot with a drop trap. But that's how I got him as a kitten and I don't know how much he remembers of the thing. I wish we could just put a huge net over the yard!!
 
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profcat

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Another update: It started raining here. There's no way he's coming out in this.
We'll put food out someplace dry tomorrow but it's going to rain most of tomorrow and tomorrow night. So he's going to be out there for a couple more days. I didn't even see him today. Ugh, I hate this!

Maybe I'll print flyers tomorrow for the neighborhood just in case he wanders a bit. But I have a feeling he's hunkered down really close by. I just wish he'd eat. He didn't touch the food I left out today.
IMG_7159.JPG
 

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I hope you get him back soon, whatever you do don’t give up. You can go out and walk around playing a tape of a cat crying, put out lb smells, your dirty laundry stinky food etc. post flyers, talk to neighbors, set up cams to see when he comes back if you haven’t, alert all area shelters, dvm, and social media lost and found pet groups that he got out. 🤗
 

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I wanted to add that I just tried out the video with the mom cat crying linked by cat nap and my cats all came to me and looked out the window etc. so definitely try that. Quinn was in the bed near me and sat up immediately. Zena is now in a bed near me and Merlin is sticking by my feet. I first heard about this on a siamese cat forum I am on where someone got her lost back meezer this way.
 

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I wanted to add that I just tried out the video with the mom cat crying linked by cat nap and my cats all came to me and looked out the window etc. so definitely try that. Quinn was in the bed near me and sat up immediately. Zena is now in a bed near me and Merlin is sticking by my feet. I first heard about this on a siamese cat forum I am on where someone got her lost back meezer this way.
Yeah, when I tried playing the sound, my female AND male cat came running, too. :thumbsup:
(even my dog reacted, but only turned his head, didn't actually come running.)

(maybe I should have put a "warning: only play sound through headphones"...since all cats will come running....label on it.) :blush:
It's truly amazing, though. Norachan Norachan first posted it, on one of the threads, helping a member trapping a feral cat...in the 'Caring for Strays and Ferals' sub-forum.

I think that profcat profcat 's cat...is truly hunting, and especially mice and chipmunks. :bluepaw:
He's probably found plenty of mice holes, and just waits for them to exit.
Plus, since his mom is outside, he's probably also hanging around with her, too. Or else found some other cat friends to socialize with.

The good thing, is that he still comes by, and is not too far away. :blackcat:
I think once he has enough of hunting, and watching everything that moves in the night...then he will stroll on home, like nothing has happened. Cannot really say when. He probably also visits his home area, every night, too,...and sleeps throughout the day, under something, hidden away. He is gorgeous, and I can see him blending into the night, with only his eyes showing.

Hopefully, he does venture into a trap, or else just decides to come up to the window and door, backyard, to patrol his home territory.

(Raccoons are interesting, in the sense that they also like to eat dry cat food, but like to dip that dry cat food into water bowls.
It's like raccoons are making their own 'cereal with water'...instead of milk with cereal.)
 

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Raccoons do not produce saliva hence the dipping food in water. I heard the trash panda thing years ago and it stuck in my head! 🤣

I do a very high pitch meow (my imitation of the mama cat warning meow) & Jackie comes up to me (when he is outside & even the rare times he escaped his harness.)
 
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